The best solution is to give seniors choice and control over their health care decisions

WASHINGTON — Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist today urged Congress to look on the 2006 Medicare Actuaries’ Report as a wake-up call to seriously reform Medicare. In particular, seniors should be given the option to receive their benefits in the form of a Medicare health savings account (HSA).

The trustees report, released today, indicates that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance component will go into the red this year, and will be bankrupt by 2018. Medicare spending is expected to rise from 2.5% of national spending to 11% by the time a child born today turns 74. By 2020, Medicare will be bigger than Social Security.

“One-size-fits-all, command and control health care is an expensive dinosaur that will devour taxpayers for decades to come,” said Norquist. “As millions of Americans embrace the freedoms and cost savings of HSAs and consumer-directed health care, why can’t seniors have that same choice in Medicare?”

According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, 3 million Americans are currently covered by an HSA compatible insurance plan. Hewitt Associates, a major benefits consulting firm, reports that a majority of large employers will be offering HSAs in the next year. Whereas health insurance premiums in general have been growing at or around 10% a year, HSA-compatible plan premiums have been growing by about 3% annually.

“Medicare’s arcane rules and red tape prevent seniors from having an HSA,” continued Norquist. “Medicare could simply give a senior their benefit as cash, an insurance package could be purchased, and the remaining money would be deposited in a Medicare-HSA. Whatever funds the senior doesn’t use rolls over and grows for further retirement health care needs.”